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MonkeyNotes-Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
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Chapter 38

Summary

Marlow continues his narrative with a description of Brown, who comes to Patusan and brings an end to the peaceful life there. People fear this Australian ruffian, almost like a devil, for he is an arrogant scoundrel with a vile temper and an immoral lifestyle. In Australia, where he had been a smuggler, he was known for killing people for no apparent reason. It is reported that he fell in love with the wife of a missionary with whom he eloped. She fell ill and died soon after, leaving him grief-stricken.

Brown was caught in his illegal activities by a Spanish patrol cutter near Mindanao. They intended to take him to prison in Zamboanga, but when they stopped at one of the Spanish settlements, Brown stole a ship and escaped. While sailing towards Zanzibar, where he planned to sell the ship, he noticed the island of Patusan on his map. It struck him that he could live safely there since the island was cut off from the rest of the world.

When Brown and his men landed, they armed themselves, went ashore, and found a village, where they were greeted with a burst of cannon fire. Brown's men counter-fired. Soon, however, the invaders were surrounded by Raja Allang's men. They made a barricade, but since their position was not secure and there were only fourteen of them, they were easy targets.


Notes

The chapter serves two important purposes. It contrasts the deliberate and continuous evil acts of Brown with the honest character of Jim. Since Brown does not value life, as evidenced in his murdering people for no reason, he is not afraid to die himself; this makes him a difficult and dangerous adversary.

The chapter also gives an idea about the geographical location of Patusan. The fictitious island is probably located among the Sunda Islands, somewhere near the coast of Sumatra.

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